Aboriginal Communities Left Waiting for Economic Stimulus

SMITHERS –The Minister of Indian Affairs has yet again failed to deliver federal dollars to hard hit aboriginal communities in the northwest, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.  

While all Canadians are hoping federal stimulus money will soften the blow of the economic crisis, First Nations communities are being told they have to wait, again.

Instead of the federal funding that First Nations governments are in such desperate need of, all they got from the Minister of Indian Affairs at a June 29th press conference was a vague policy statement and yet another promise that money may come at some unspecified later date.

The new Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development is the result of 16 long months of consultations. The 25-page report fails to include any details on timelines, rules for receiving money, or even an application form for aboriginal communities wanting to access the program.

Headlining the press release was a re-announcement of $200-million from the Harper government. But this money was already announced last January as part of Budget 2008.

“It looks to me like these guys are trying to squeeze as much political gain as possible out of every promised dollar by announcing everything over and over again,” says Cullen.

“Aboriginal communities need economic development now, not vague frameworks for the consideration of development in the distant future.”

Aboriginal communities have been suffering from economic crisis far longer than most Canadians. But, while the government is busy pouring money into “shovel ready” projects across the country, there is no word on when this repeatedly promised funding might reach aboriginal communities.

“The Conservatives have finally realized that Canada needs stimulus spending to come out of this economic crisis.  When are they going to wake up and realize that aboriginal peoples are still waiting for economic stimulus in their communities?”